Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

You’ve seen it before.   A man makes a comment that can be interpreted as insensitive or abusive depending on the listener, and every so often you hear a woman that rails into him, to just let him know how inappropriate he was. Seeing this is often shocking to those of us who are used to quietly taking it, wondering what we’ve done to justify his abuse.

Our responses to abuse can vary tremendously depending many factors.

A healthy response is one where we have a clear sense of when we, or others are being inappropriate. We know what we are willing to tolerate, and we don’t allow others to treat us badly.   We can assert our right to be treated well without being abusive to those we feel are mistreating us.

An unhealthy response can take many forms.

Maybe we walk away and take it personally, and start to wonder if the abuser’s accusation are true.

Maybe we don’t anything to the abuser, and start asking ourselves, our friends or even God whether we had brought this abuse upon ourselves.

Maybe we lash out and become just as abusive towards the abuser.

Maybe we hold on to the belief that the abuser deliberately meant to hurt us, when the truth is far more complicated.

Maybe we refuse to see our role in the abuse.

With some people and some situations, we might respond well, whereas with others we may lose our cool.

So what are the factors that determine how we respond?

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The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

I grew up in a home where I was regularly yelled at for doing things like leaving lights on, for eating too much, or wanting too much. I was told that it was my job not to make my father angry, and so I felt like I was constantly stressed, and feeling like I was walking on egg-shells around the house.   I was taught that we had to respect and obey our elders, and the idea of standing up for myself was completely foreign to me.   Since I didn’t believe I would be able to avoid his anger, I tried to not have feelings and needs.   This set me up for a lifelong pattern of isolating when I was unhappy, and trying to deal with it on my own.

The problem with this model, is

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A Powerful Strategy to Become the Best You

A Powerful Strategy to Become the Best You

As I child I was told early on that I asked too many questions and had too many needs.   My father was constantly angry, and he told me it was my responsibility to not make him so.   So my response was to belittle my needs, and try to be less demanding.

Recently, I found myself in a similar pattern in a project I was working on, where I felt like I was walking on eggshells to fulfill the needs of someone else. I dismissed my own needs in favor of theirs and began getting resentful.

Yet I am a firm believer that we need to stand up for our rights and what we believe in, and that if we stay silent, we will lose our voice and our power.

I realized that I am caught in this conflict of not knowing, when is it OK to speak up, and when is it better to shut up?

I’ve recently noticed the pattern that people with healthier relationships do speak up. They feel more entitled to being treated well than I do, and there is even research to support this.

I was in the midst of pondering this conundrum, when I showed up for my yoga class. The teacher talked about setting an intention for our practice, but said that to face our current times, we need something deeper, something more long lasting, we need to concept of the sankalpa.

What is the sankalpa?

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7 Tips to Respectfully Discuss Divisive Topics:

7 Tips to Respectfully Discuss Divisive Topics:

America has grown increasingly divided, especially over the course of this last election, and I worry in today’s political climate, it could get worse before it gets better.

The increasing divisiveness has made me want to only spend time with people I agree with. But I’ve realized that my tendency to stay one sided only reinforces my own way of thinking, and does not help us bridge the widening gaps between us.  Americans now more than ever need to find ways to bridge the divide. We need to be able to sit down and respectfully talk to people we don’t agree with, and find common ground. It is the only way we will be able to make the changes we need to benefit us all!

I am no diplomat, but I tend to seek out very diplomatic friends, so I asked them for their wisdom. With their support I’ve developed 7 tips we can take to respectfully discuss divisive topics.

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3 Steps to Become Open Hearted

3 Steps to Become Open Hearted

For most of my life, I was seen as indifferent, cold or standoffish.  I always admired people who could be loving and open hearted the moment we met. But I never felt comfortable letting down my guard with people that quickly.   I wondered, how could they trust someone so quickly?  How could these people be so  sure that they wouldn’t get hurt?

In those darker moments, I spent a lot of time in blame mode.   I blamed my farther for his constant criticism, for making me feel never enough. I blamed my mother for her inability to defend me against his attacks or stand up to him. I labeled my dad as an angeraholic, and my mom as a victim, and I was so stuck in these thought patterns that I couldn’t change my relationship with them.

I’ve come a long way since then. Now when I think of my parents, I no longer harbor any of the long-standing resentment or blame. When I think of my friends, or people I’ve met, I can approach them with an open heart. Without any conscious intention of doing something differently, I’m smiling more, I’m happier to see people and I’m noticing more love coming my way as well!

So what have I done to become more open hearted?

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The Dangers of Putting Yourself Last

The Dangers of Putting Yourself Last

I have a client that spent 35 years dedicated to helping her husband excel.   She helped him organize his space, prioritize his health, and she kept him fed and the house cleaned so that he could concentrate on his career. She told herself that she was doing it because of her unselfish and undying love for him, even though he didn’t seem to appreciate her or her efforts.   Meanwhile, he wasn’t affectionate with her, and was often distant and aloof.   But as he distanced himself more, she would justify his actions to herself.   She held on to hope that her marriage would turn around and that one day, he’d come home and tell her how much he loved her. Then he left her for a younger woman.

I had another client that regularly worked 60-70 hr weeks. She was a co-owner of the firm she worked with. While each person was responsible for a portion of handling the business, she frequently found herself taking responsibilities that her colleagues had neglected to fulfill.   She was exhausted, and as she was getting older, she realized that she had been neglecting herself, and that it was time to prioritize herself!

overloaded with workAnother client was completely overloaded with responsibilities. She was the CEO of her company, and often found herself having to work late into the night. Then she’d come home, and take care of her elderly parent. She also managed several properties, and an Air B&B. She was stressed out, sleep deprived and having a hard time keeping track of all her responsibilities.

All 3 of these clients dedicated their lives to others and left themselves last.  How did that impact their lives?

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